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Memorial Tributes, Volume 14
THEODORE H. H. PIAN
Elected in 1988
“For pioneering research and continued development ofhybrid finite element methods for the analysis of structures.”
BY PIN TONG
SUBMITTED BY THE NAE HOME SECRETARY
THEODORE HSUEH HUANG PIAN, a prominent aero-nautics and astronautics professor and researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), died of natural causes on June 20, 2009, at the age of 90. The scientific and engineering world will long remember Dr. Pian’s innovative and inspiring contributions to the fields of structure mechanics and finite element methods. Those of us who loved him knew him as a husband, father, brother, grandfather, uncle, colleague, mentor, and above all a friend.
Dr. Pian was born in Shanghai on January 18, 1919, and raised in Tianjin, China. After finishing Nankai Middle School, he earned a bachelor’s degree in engineering in 1940 at the Tsing Hua University in Beijing.
Engineering was not Dr. Pian’s first choice of study. His daughter, Canta, said: “He wanted to major in architecture, but the Chinese knew that engineering was the key to the future of China. So he took the engineering exams. He was a stellar student. Engineering wasn’t his first choice, but he was obviously a very creative person, and he applied that in his engineering career.”